A smartphone’s camera details are usually plastered front and centre in the promos, and for good reason. Our phones have become the de facto tool to click photos and store our fond memories digitally. Understandably, the quality of the photos goes up a notch if the user spends top bucks on a brand new phone. To that note, 2021 saw the launch of a slew of camera-centric flagships with incredible features, but which one is the best? Enter, the Best Camera Phone of 2021 – Premium award. In this category, we’ve ignored the price tags and have picked all the smartphones that we thought offered the finest overall camera experience in 2021. But the award will only go to one phone, so to ensure absolute objectivity, our nominees were thoroughly inspected by the Indian Gadget Awards jury of over 40 experts from the Indian tech media community, and the results are in. Check out the winner of the Best Premium Camera Phone of 2021 award.
Winner: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Runner-up: Vivo X70 Pro+
Check out the full list of nominees for the Best Premium Camera Phone of 2021 award.
The iQOO 7 Legend is a fantastic gaming phone and one that really pushed the boundaries with its long list of features. While the smartphone’s headlining feature is undoubtedly its SD888 SoC, the device’s 48MP main sensor deserves some credit too. To that note, the shooter excels at delivering great photographs in all lighting conditions. Plus, its Ultra Stable Mode combines OIS and EIS to give the gimbal-esque stabilisation when recording videos. The smartphone’s assisting shooters are no slouch either and the unit’s 13MP ultra-wide camera (that doubles up as a macro lens) and its 13MP telephoto shooter click quality stills as well. There’s even an Extreme Night Mode on this device that offers amazing low-light shots, and a Video Pro Mode that gives users granular control over their video settings.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is truly an ‘ultra’ in all regards. The device’s main sensor is a 50MP 1/1.12″ unit which is the biggest sensor on any phone to date, offering a pixel size of 1.4 micrometres. As capable as the main camera is, the snapper is accompanied by a 48MP periscope telephoto camera that offers up to 120x digital zoom, and a 48MP ultra-wide camera with a 128-degree FoV. Pictures clicked from the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra have a remarkable amount of detail in them and the shots also have great dynamic range. What’s more, the phone also supports 8K video recording, aside from offering a host of other photography and videography focused features.
No surprises here. Apple’s latest top-end flagship, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is also a nominee for the Best Camera Phone of 2021 – Premium category. The larger sensors on this year’s iPhones have enhanced their photography performance even further. The iPhone 13 Pro Max gets a trio of 12MP sensors, with one of them grabbing a wide lens that makes use of the company’s sensor-shift technology, another utilising a telephoto lens 3x optical zoom shots and an ultra-wide angle sensor, which allows users to paint on a larger canvas. What’s more, the company’s upgraded Smart HDR 4 leads to stunning photos no matter what kind of scenario they are clicked in. This device also comes with the Cinematic Mode, which offers professional-grade video effects and there’s even support for capturing RAW video.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ is among the most impressive phones of 2021 and the smartphone offers a ZEISS-backed camera setup with ZEISS T* coating to avoid lens flare. The phone comes with two main cameras – a 48MP gimbal-stabilised snapper and a 50MP Ultra Sensing GN1 sensor that has regular OIS. While these are able to dish out spectacular photos and videos, the phone also offers two telephoto cameras of 8MP and 12MP resolutions, which together provide up to 60x digital zoom. Suffice it to say, the photography and videography experience of the Vivo X70 Pro Plus is as diverse, as it is fulfilling.
As is customary with any Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S21 Ultra also snaps gorgeous stills with plenty of vibrancy and details in the frame. The device ships with a 108MP f/1.8 wide camera which works alongside a pair of 10MP telephoto cameras. The assisting sensors allow users to snap photos at up to 100x digital zoom, a feature aptly dubbed ‘Space Zoom’ by the company. And, then there’s the 12MP ultra-wide camera that also returns stunning images. All said and done, the phone offers a complete camera setup with plenty of incredible features like support for 8K video recording, a Super Steady mode to mimic gimbal-like shots, and much more.
OnePlus is the go-to brand for performance-fiends, however, the company’s OnePlus 9 Pro managed to sway a lot of budding photographers to the company’s doorsteps too. To that note, the brand partnered with photography-giant Hasselblad in an attempt to finetune the phone’s colour science. The partnership worked brilliantly as the OnePlus 9 Pro delivers natural-looking photos with realistic colours under all kinds of light. The phone’s camera setup includes a 48MP main camera, a 50MP ultra-wide snapper, an 8MP telephoto sensor, and a 2MP monochrome sensor which, when put together, offer a complete camera setup.